Russia will “destroy freedom” in Europe and pursue its neighbors, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned Swedish lawmakers in a speech on Thursday.
“If Ukraine did not tolerate and protect ourselves, it would mean that … all of Russia’s neighbors are in danger from now on,” he said in a video link speech that received a standing ovation.
“Russia has waged war against Ukraine because they want to advance further in Europe, they want to destroy freedom in Europe.”
“This is a fundamental challenge for the European security and defense system,” he said, calling on Europe to issue weekly sanctions packages against Russia.
He warned Sweden that Moscow had its Baltic Sea island of Gotland in its sights.
Sweden reopened its garrison on Gotland in 2018, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, after closing it in 2004.
“It would mean that you are in danger, because it is only the sea that divides you and this aggressive policy,” he said.
“Russian propagandists are already discussing on air, on TV broadcasts, how Russia will occupy Gotland and how they will control it for decades,” he added.
“They think it would be convenient to place counter-defense systems and bases there to cover the advance to the Baltic states.”
Zelensky thanked Sweden for its support, after agreeing to send weapons to a country at war for the first time since 1939.
Not a member of NATO and officially militarily unaffiliated, Stockholm on Thursday announced a second delivery of 5,000 tank launchers.
Support for NATO membership has skyrocketed in Sweden since Russia’s invasion, but Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has so far ruled out the idea.
Joining the alliance runs the risk of “destabilizing” northern Europe, she said.
Zelensky, who has made several appearances in front of parliaments in other countries over the past few weeks via video links, would address an extraordinary NATO summit later on Thursday.
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